Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Days Before The Snow

A great gusty wind has been pushing hard eastward across the lake all day.  The waves rolling up onto the pebbled beach come in, capped with heads of wild spray.   Just the kind that surfers ask for in their prayers, though none are here today.

The waves are rich and fat and come in clean ordered rows.  A kind of scene that you would normally expect to see when a storm roars up hard past the Atlantic shores.

This is not what usually splashes up on to the thin beach in Goderich, on the eastern shore of Lake Huron. This is also not how it looks on most late December days here in Canada.

 Christmas is just a day away and the thick crusts of ice that usually loll on the hard cold edge of the shoreline have not yet arrived.  

The grass is still a rich and hopeful green.  The people in town have yet to dig out their thick heavy coats from the back of closets.  A light sweater is all that you need today to brake the chill of winter from reaching to your bones, which became official, just a couple of days ago.


The Beach St station restaurant is open for the last day of the season.  The real Goderich winter will rush in soon enough.  The place so vibrant and inviting throughout the summer will be closed for winter.  The steep pitched roof, and the parking lot beside it will be layered with thick crusts of snow and ice.  Its big windows rimed with frost.

Since the Springtime hungry people have come here for its food, and for its surprising endless view out across the lake.  All from an old red brick temple of commerce and travel, brimming with a long history that had a great new chapter written when my brother moved it here.  

Now it is no longer a loved but neglected relect of a bygone era.  It brims with life and hope at least until the afternoon, when the doors will be closed and locked till Spring.


This winter, when it is still and dark and cold along the quiet edge of the lake. No one will come there except my brother Herb.  He who had the absurd inspiration to move it from its old foundations tucked up beside the hill.  There where it had not heard or seen the puff and rumble of busy trains for more than 50 years.

My sister Carol-Anne and my mother have just finished their lunch on this last day that it is open.  

It is a bright, warm, and happy place.  I do not know what they are saying.  It is a private moment and probably they are talking about not too much at all.

Just words dancing lightly in the sunlight. Little said but meaning more than enough.

Later my brother and I will take away my Mother's cheer by bringing her out to the edge of town.

It just may be the last time she comes this year to the grave yard where my Dad's ashes rest on the top shelf of this red marbled wall.

Despite the sadness she still likes coming here.  With her hand extended out towards the wall, she says before we go, "I will see you soon." 

Words to my late father now passed nearly 5 years ago.  Her speaking not to an urn filled with ash behind a wall, but to the place where departed spirits listen and gratefully receive the heartfelt cries from the earth below.


Not long ago I found a picture taken at a family Christmas nearly 60 years ago.  Taken by my camera at my Grand Mother's home in Glassville NB.  

I wonder now why no one is smiling for the picture.  What words, what event, stripped away the joy in every face, just then.  I do not know.

Just what could have happened in the moments before the camera flashed and captured this fragment of time on a cold winter night, so long ago.  So in contrast to my own happy memories of those loving days back in my Grand Mother's home.

Now the picture remains an unanswered and unsolvable puzzle.  Never to be known what caused this chorus of somber faces.  Clearly defying my memory which unhesitatingly describes a much different scene.

A tiny young version of myself is  there on the left, looking out through time from a faded black and white photograph.  I, like my family, have been caught by the bright impermanence of the flash of my little camera. 




But Christmas is not at all about the shadows that can suddenly fall upon faces captured long ago. It is about the love shared here and now.  The true smiles are not those that come from brand new things.  But what our hearts offer up to one another.

At my brother's house on Christmas morning the two newest members of this family get together and forge a loving bond.  Indya is exploring her first Christmas in this world.  One she has so recently joined last January, less than a year ago. 

Moose the dog, has seen more then a few hectic happy Christmas mornings at my brother's home, but never seen a baby there before.


On Christmas morning the full Marshall family, a rare occasion, gathers all together.  In years to come no one will look back at this picture and wonder why there are no smiles. 



 In just a few days more the snow at last blows in from across the cold lake.  The long dark days of winter have at last arrived.  They can be denied no longer. 

If you can think
Golden thoughts,
That means already
You have changed the winter weather
Of your mind.


3 comments:

cabennie said...

That was excellent and most enjoyable

cabennie said...

That was excellent and most enjoyable

Melanie Morin said...

I felt I was stepping into a perfect moment in time. Well written. I felt I was there.